IT STARTED with Leigh Matthews in 1986, hit overdrive by landing Mick Malthouse in 1999 and continued with the much-publicised handover to Nathan Buckley ahead of the 2012 season.

Collingwood has a proven record of targeting big-name coaches. But will it go down the same path in selecting Buckley's successor?

The Pies will in coming days finalise a sub-committee to find its 2022 coach, in the shadows of a potential board coup that continues to gather steam.

The panel will include football boss Graham Wright and football director Paul Licuria – key decision-makers in Buckley's departure and drivers in what the club is describing as a "regeneration". 

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Alastair Clarkson's long-term plans at Hawthorn remain uncertain, while his understudy Sam Mitchell is without a contract at Waverley Park beyond this season. Then there's three-time Grand Final coach Ross Lyon and the prospect of a senior coaching return for Michael Voss.

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Buckley – who has been in open dialogue on his future with the club throughout 2021 – suggested the Pies needed a set of "fresh eyes" who would bring "fresh ideas" for next year beyond. He added that the club would identify a coach that could help the playing group "pop" again.

Here are eight contenders to fill his shoes.


Holds a contract with Hawthorn until the end of 2022 but both he and the club have been open in suggesting his future will be discussed at the end of this season. If he can't be guaranteed security to oversee the Hawks' rebuild, or if the club commits to Sam Mitchell for its next phase, Clarkson will emerge as gettable for a rival. An approach to the four-time flag winning coach would fit in with the Pies' history in eyeing big names and he also holds a strong relationship with Pies football boss Graham Wright – a man he worked with at the Hawks for 14 years until January.  

Hawthorn coach Alastair Clarkson in round six, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos


Has been waiting and watching the coaching market from afar while splitting his time between the media and working in property development. And still to this point he has refused to put a line through any future coaching ambitions. Is this Lyon's time to strike? Has a proven history of being able to draw the most of out a playing group and straighten up teams defensively. The question mark has been his ability to oversee a rebuild, but he took St Kilda to a Grand Final in his third year at the helm and Fremantle to the decider inside two years.

Fremantle coach Ross Lyon in round 11, 2019. Picture: AFL Photos


Remains only a matter of time until he's a senior AFL coach. Now it's a question as to whether he's ready to assume the top mantle. Mitchell remains without a contract at Hawthorn next season and he's been given no assurances on any succession plan with Alastair Clarkson. He will start next season as a 39-year-old with four years of coaching under his belt across two clubs – including 2021 as coach of the Hawks' VFL affiliate Box Hill. North Melbourne's approach to Buckley in 2009 forced Collingwood's hand in executing its Malthouse-Buckley handover. Would a Pies approach to Mitchell this time around accelerate things at Waverley Park, or would they let him walk?

Box Hill senior coach Sam Mitchell speaks to his players in May. Picture: AFL Photos


Looked set for a senior coaching return at Carlton at the end of 2019 before the 'Teague Train' gathered steam and Voss returned to Port Adelaide. The Brisbane champion has been Ken Hinkley's right-hand man across the past three seasons after moving to the Power in 2015 and spending his first four seasons as midfield coach. After being sacked by the Lions as senior coach in 2013, Voss has poured his energy into upskilling his coaching resume with various courses and programs and is seen as a fantastic builder of relationships. Would certainly fit the mould of high-profile coaches the Pies have craved in the past.

Port Adelaide senior assistant coach Michael Voss speaks to his colleagues in round three, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos


Will take the reins as the Pies' interim coach immediately after the Queen's Birthday clash and has made no secret of his intentions to be a senior coach in the past – interviewing for the vacant job at North Melbourne last season. Carlton and the Roos have shown in recent times how the momentum a caretaker coach can build gets difficult to knock back, and Harvey has more experience than David Teague (Blues) and Rhyce Shaw (North) at the same stage of their appointments. This season marks Harvey's 13th in the coaches' box split across three clubs – St Kilda, Carlton and the Pies.

Collingwood assistant coach Robert Harvey directs traffic at training in May, 2020. Picture: AFL Photos


Along with Sam Mitchell, Yze sits among the top candidates of the next wave of untried senior coaches. Has been a big part of Melbourne's rise up the ladder this season after returning to the club where he played 271 games. Previously spent 2012-2020 at Hawthorn under Alastair Clarkson and has held roles as assistant coach, strategy and opposition analyst and worked across different areas in development. Seen as one of the sharpest minds in the game and interviewed for the Adelaide job won by Matthew Nicks in 2019.

Melbourne assistant coach Adem Yze. Picture: AFL Photos


Would be a sense of irony with one former Collingwood captain replacing another. But Burns has a long-standing record as an assistant coach and this year crossed from Hawthorn to Adelaide as Matthew Nicks' senior assistant coach. Burns, who played 265 games for the Pies and is a member of the club's Hall of Fame, started as an assistant at West Coast and missed out on the senior job to Adam Simpson at the end of 2013. He's since been an assistant under Buckley at the Pies and Clarkson at the Hawks.

Adelaide coach Matthew Nicks and assistant Scott Burns in round five, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos


Was among the final candidates for the job David Noble won at Arden Street last season and has done nothing to hurt his credentials by taking over a decimated Essendon backline this season. Giansiracusa was named the 2020 AFLCA assistant coach of the year while with the Western Bulldogs and has won praise for his ability to build strong relationships with players after entering the coaching ranks in 2015. Has also coached his own team – taking Footscray to the VFL finals in his first year at the helm in 2019.

Essendon assistant coach Daniel Giansiracusa at training in May, 2021. Picture: AFL Photos

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